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For Kentucky, the race to close a widening educational gap is a critical one. A growing roster of schools in Kentucky could be at least part of the solution. Learn more about these programs -- and additional online education initiatives -- here.

Online Colleges in Kentucky

Online education is proving to be more than just a fad as more and more students boot up to earn their degrees. For those students for whom geographical, professional or personal barriers prevent them from attending traditional classroom-based courses, access to online education could mean the difference between completing their educations or not. States recognizing this potential have begun investing in programs that support online learning. Kentucky ranks among them by supporting programs that improve the quality and accessibility of online education for its residents.

The Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education has taken a proactive role in the development of online learning within the Commonwealth. Kentucky Virtual Adult Education (kvae.ky.gov) is a key example of this. The KVAE program connects adults in Kentucky with free online courses designed to help high school graduates improve their skills in areas such as math or reading before either continuing on to college or entering the workforce. Another KCPE program designed to improve access to online higher education specifically is the KY Virtual Campus (kyvc.org). According to its website, the KYVC serves as a "statewide advocate for access to learning through technology." In practical terms, the KYVC's goal is to connect potential students with a database of quality online courses in Kentucky, including for-credit, professional development and supplemental studies.

Trends in Kentucky Online Schools

Online education is quickly moving into the mainstream of American culture, and online schools in Kentucky are continually working to meet increasing demand for these programs. According to a report from the Sloan Consortium (sloanconsortium.org), almost two-thirds of private-sector colleges and universities said that online learning is a critical part of their long term strategy in 2010. The report also notes that that same year, the growth rate for online enrollments was 21 percent nationally, significantly outpacing 2 percent growth in college enrollments for all postsecondary education. Kentucky online colleges can help students participate in this digital revolution, which may improve not just their personal employment stock, but their state's economy at large.

College Degrees in Kentucky

Kentucky is striving to close a growing gap between the educational achievement of its residents and that demanded by its employers. According to a report from the nonprofit Lumina Foundation (luminafoundation.org), which parses data from the U.S. Census (census.gov), 30 percent of the state's 2.3 million working-age adults held at least a 2-year college degree in 2010, which places the Commonwealth 45th among all states in terms of educational attainment.

If the current rate of degree production holds, Lumina projects that 34.5 percent of Kentuckians will hold a college degree by 2018. According to a report by Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce (cew.georgetown.edu), 54 percent of Kentucky's jobs are expected to require a college credential that same year. In other words, unless Kentucky develops more college graduates, its workforce may face a significant skills gap that could undermine its economic progress. This is a challenge not just for Kentucky, but the American South as a whole.

By improving access to higher education, online colleges in Kentucky could help minimize the region's educational achievement gap. This is especially true for those who face geographical or personal obstacles that make reporting to traditional classrooms difficult. But though the CEW and Lumina data confirm that Kentucky could benefit economically from increasing its educated workforce across the board, this is especially true within the state's fastest-growing industries. According to data provided by Workforce Kentucky (workforcekentucky.ky.gov), the two industries in which employment growth is expected to be the strongest between 2010 and 2020 are health care and child care, fields that often require -- or at least benefit from -- the type of formal training that can be completed online. Thankfully, there are a number of online schools in Kentucky prepared to meet that challenge

Online Colleges in Kentucky

Kentucky has embraced online learning, and its growing roster of online institutions signifies that. Perhaps one of largest programs offering online degrees in Kentucky is the Kentucky Community & Technical College System's (kctcs.edu) Learn by Term initiative. Through this program, KCTCS students can complete coursework fully online -- coursework that can either apply toward an associate degree or transfer to a 4-year degree program.

The University of Kentucky (uky.edu) also maintains a distance learning program that allows students to complete online coursework in a number of fields. Among them: communications, education, fine arts, health sciences, nursing and social work. Yet another well-known school offering online degrees in Kentucky is Western Kentucky University (wku.edu). Through WKU Online, students can enroll in 60 online degree programs at either the undergraduate or graduate level. Kentuckians considering online degrees will also find a number of private-sector online schools available to them, including Baker College Online, Argosy University Online and Virginia College.

Whatever type of online program chosen, it is important to keep in mind that no two schools are alike. To help improve the odds of success, consider researching and contacting a number of online colleges in Kentucky to find the one that best suits your goals.


Sources:
Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce
Kentucky Virtual Adult Education
KY Virtual Campus
Lumina Foundation
Sloan Consortium
Workforce Kentucky

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